The first of three Millennium Park summer concert series launches on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. with the cutting edge, indie rock and pop music series Downtown Sound, beginning with headliner, Lee Renaldo Band.
The ten-week series continues through July 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each Monday night and includes such highlights as An Evening with Glen Hansard, Daniel Lanois, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Handsome Family.
Downtown Sound is programmed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in conjunction with Mike Reed of At Pluto and sponsored by Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Tribune and 93XRT.
Millennium Park is located on Michigan Avenue, bordered by Randolph St. to the north, Columbus Dr. to the east and Monroe St. to the south. Convenient parking is located in the Millennium Park Garage (entrance on Columbus at Monroe or Randolph), Millennium Lakeside and Grant Park North.
Lee Ranaldo Band + Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog
While he’s known for being a co-founder and three decade member of Sonic Youth, it’s Lee Ranaldo’s guitar skills, ranked number 1 by Spin Magazine, that will highlight his performance on the Pritzker Stage. Joining him are his Sonic Youth band mate Steve Shelley, Alan Licht and Tim Luntzel. Last year Ranaldo released his first fully self-penned, song-based album demonstrating both his electric and acoustic skills. Opening this evening and performing from their latest album, Your Turn, is Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog.
Sharon Van Etten + Speck Mountain
In just a few short years and only three albums, New Jersey born and raised singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten has established her vision and voice. She’s performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Radio Music Hall and the Pitchfork Music Festival, and now adds the Pritzker Pavilion to her resume. The Chicago-based, psychedelic rock band Speck Mountain opens the show.
An Evening with Glen Hansard feat. Lisa Hannigan and members of The Frames
Glen Hansard’s first ever solo album, Rhythm and Repose, has achieved great critical success. While the singer-songwriter and guitarist realized great notoriety around his Oscar® winning Best Song ”Once”, he was part of one of the most influential bands in Ireland, The Frames, members of which are with him at this performance. Joining them is Irish singer and musician Lisa Hannigan.
Daniel Lanois + Brokeback
A celebrated producer for artists such as Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel and U2’s The Joshua Tree, Daniel Lanois also has a large catalog of his own albums, first recording in 1989. The songwriter and musician now has a large body of recordings that reflect his distinct sound of pedal steel. Chicago and Thrill Jockey recording artists Brokeback are the opening act.
Carolina Chocolate Drops + Angela James
The Grammy® Award winning Carolina Chocolate Drops certainly demonstrates the influence of its regional Piedmont background with fiddle and banjo-based music, but to merely call the group bluegrass would ignore the band’s constant evolution as members seek to highlight the central role African-Americans have played in shaping our nation’s popular music. Opening this evening is classic country music artist and transplanted Chicagoan, Angela James.
Lee Fields & The Expressions + Theo Huff and The Platinum Band
Lee Fields is on his fifth decade of making soul music. With a prolific catalog of albums and having toured the world over, Fields continues to evolve, recording on Truth & Soul Records with its house band, The Expressions. The group has been touring the world opening for such acts as Wilco and The Black Keys. Kicking off the evening is young, up and coming Chicago R & B/ Gospel singer, Theo Huff and The Platinum Band.
Dawes + The Cairo Gang
North Carolina is fruitful ground for Los Angeles based Dawes as the band just recorded its third album there, the recently released Stories Don’t End. It features songs created by vocalist and lead guitarist Taylor Goldsmith reaching a balance between tough and tender, especially when melded with Tay Strathairn’s piano. Dawes features Wylie Gelber on bass and Taylor’s brother Griffin on drums. Chicago Rock ‘n Roll band, Led by Emmet Kelly, The Cairo Gang opens the show.
Fatoumata Diawara + Alasdair Roberts and Friends
Fatoumata Diawara’s debut album, Fatou, is almost entirely her own work: self-composed and arranged, with her own backing vocals and percussion. The artist, raised in Mali, but now based in Paris, creates her own sound with a distinctly African spin. Inspired by Wassoulou tradition, jazz and blues, Diawara has overcome cultural prejudice faced by women to make her own music that is well-received by giants in the industry. Opening the stage this evening is Irish Folk group and Drag City Recording artists Alasdair Roberts and Friends.
The Handsome Family + AZITA
The Handsome Family is actually the husband and wife songwriting team of Brett and Rennie Sparks who have been collaborating for 20 years. Their latest release is The Handsome Family’s Wilderness which intertwines the wonders of nature with unusual moments in history. Their music invokes Appalachian holler, psychedelic rock, Tin Pan Alley and medieval ballads. Chicago’s piano songstress and multi-instrumentalist AZITA opens for the band.
Dessa + Psalm One
Dessa is still a rapper and poet, but her new album, Parts of Speech, scheduled for a late June release, reveals an elegant singer with a multi-platform voice. The recording involves multiple narratives of love, loss, connections and communion. Hearing it performed live will be a real treat. Chicago’s own underground hip-hop artist Psalm One opens the show.
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Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.